Ever since the Iron Curtain fell in 1989, tourism has poured into Prague. Cosmopolitan, charming and with magical bridges and cathedrals, Prague is regarded by many as Europe’s most beautiful city. Visitors never run out of things to see and do in Prague and lovers of art, history, architecture, shopping, food, and of-course beer, will in particular think they’ve died and gone to heaven. With so much to offer visitors it’s little wonder Prague is these days one of Europe’s leadings travel destinations.
The main attractions in Prague are divided evenly between the west and east banks of the River Vltava. Prague Castle, home to The Bohemian Crown Jewels, is situated to the west and tops many itineraries. Over the Vltava you’ll find the iconic Charles Bridge, constructed in 1357 under the patronage of King Charles IV. East of town is where the heart of the city lies and Old Town Square is the starting point to discover Prague’s many magical monuments including the Astronomical Clock. To the north is the Jewish Quarter, which managed to survive World War 2 relatively unscathed thanks to Hitler wanting to preserve the area as a museum. For a postcard view of the city, Petrin Lookout Tower is Prague’s very own version of the Eiffel Tower.
Long ago was food in Prague limited to meat and dumplings. Affordable and delicious delights can be found everywhere in town and cafes are a great place to watch life pass by with a slice of strudel or glass of Gambrinus Beer. Old Town is full of options but head towards New Town and you’ll find more quality. Narodni Trida is one of Prague’s main streets and is a good place to window shop for an establishment that suits your style. Situated halfway between Charles Bridge and Narodni Trida is where you’ll find Kransy Ztraty (Not Just A Café). Really living up to its name, the popular venue is also a restaurant, gallery, live music venue and bottle shop.
Where to Stay
Prague literally has hundreds of quality hotels for you to choose from. Prices tend to be very similar to other European capitals so your best bet is to decide where you want to stay based on location. Stare Mesto is home to Prague’s old town and the Jewish Quarter is nearby. Mala Strana lies underneath Prague Castle, while newly gentrified Smichov is home to some of Prague’s pricier designer hotels. Zizkov on the other hand offers lower prices hotels and is popular with younger travelers wanting to be close to Prague’s famous nightlife.
Situated on a busy part of Prague’s old city, Karlova Street is one of the main tourist thoroughfares and thus prime real estate for retailers. There are of-course cheaper places to shop but Karlova serves its purpose well with stores selling everything from wooden toys, to jewellery and Czech football shirts. Linking Prague’s new and old towns, Na Prikope is where to fill your suitcase with luxury goods. There you’ll also find more affordable brands including H&M and Nike. You probably won’t want to take any fresh fruit and vegetables home with you but Havelska Market is the perfect place to people watch and sells a range of souvenirs.
Prague like a Local
Want to drink with the locals? Zizkov may not have the glitz of central Prague but it’s where you’ll find Prague’s liveliest bars and best-priced beers. You’ll be hard pressed finding a bar you don’t like there are so many in the area, in fact there are more than 300 in the neighbourhood’s five square km radius. When it comes to deciding which beer to drink, Gambrinus is Czech Republic’s most popular beer though Kozel’s is regarded as perhaps its best (depending on which local you ask). Pilsner Urquell is another much loved Czech brew and is famous for its clear colour and light flavour.